This was a good read, interesting and engaging.
Moriarty's latest just feels a little formulaic â you take a bunch of characters, give them some internal problems to deal with, put them into close contact with one another, shake things up, and see what happens.
In this case, the characters have all come to an exclusive âhealth retreatâ, each bearing their own set of problems which are ultimately revealed as different types of loss. And during the 10-day stay, they are challenged both from within and from without to acknowledge that loss and come to terms with it.
The regime at the retreat begins as pretty standard â no booze, no sugar, no recreational drugs, and get rid of all your electronics. From there it bounces back and forth between Spartanism and hedonism â attendees get rousted out of bed at dawn for tai chi, but it's followed by a facial and massage; periods of fasting are followed by fresh, wholesome foods beautifully prepared and exquisitely presented; personal counseling sessions are designed to direct the attendees to acknowledge the painful issues they're dealing with and to cope with them in positive ways. It's all very Southern California WooWoo, even though it's set in Australia. But then the program begins to turn sinister until even the most reluctant participants have to admit that something is very, very wrong.
The biggest problem with Nine Perfect Strangers â other than its somewhat shopworn premise â is that the motivating character is (to use the technical term) batshit crazy. Or rather that she descends from run-of-the-mill petty dictatorhood into batshit craziness without apparent cause. Not even the backstory (which isn't revealed until the book's Epilogue) adequately accounts for the break, and the participants' eventual decisions on how to deal with the way the retreat went off the rails simply doesn't feel realistic.
It's not a bad book, really. It's an undemanding read with a few sharp observations here and there and a mostly feel-good resolution. Readers looking for a pleasant weekend companion could do worse, but those looking to be challenged or excited could do much better.
Liane Moriarity continues to be a favorite author when looking for a purely pleasurable read!
Her wittiness keeps you on your toes and chuckling along the way. I also love the hidden meanings and tongue-in-cheek humor that is prevalent throughout her books!
And this book was no exception - I truly looked forward to reading it every night! She did a great job at painting what the characters look like in your mind, which I find to be rare in most novels I read. The entire plot was unique and interesting, as were the characters!
About two-thirds of the way in, this book did take an odd turn and for a bit I lost all hope that it could redeem itself... but it surely DID!
Interesting, yet takes awhile to get to the point, if that is what you want to call it. I did like how all the loose ends are tied up.